The Thompsons have no income, but fight on with borrowed help.
Matt and Janet Thompson moved to Australia, got all the approvals to set up a cattle feedlot, invested their life savings, then the rules began to change. They didn’t need a license at all when they started. Then a paddock was called a watercourse, and apparently they needed one. They were turning away customers in 2007, but then Matt spoke as a skeptic and things began to degenerate. In March 2008 their cattle license was cut in half. The West Australian Dept of Environment solicited complaints, and green groups, funded with lottery commission assistance, advised locals on how to target businesses and cut their cash flows to destroy them.
The license conditions suddenly increased, Matt and Janet responded to every request, but no matter how many letters of support, petitions, surveys, studies or odour assessments they got, it was never enough. All the way along DEC kept promising verbally that uncertainties would be resolved soon, but each time the written information arrived, the uncertainties grew and the news got worse and worse. DEC has issued an unbankable license, whereupon DEC can declare they have given the Thompsons what they asked for, but it’s meaningless, because no bank would recognize it as economically viable.
DEC admits it did not treat them fairly, nor follow it’s normal procedures.
It is a case study in modern tyranny run amok.
DEC effectively runs the state of Western Australia. It has veto rights on all the businesses. That’s bearable if you are a large multinational corporation with big advertising budgets in The West Australian, and a team of QC’s, but for small businesses who will stand up for you? Not the ABC, not The West Australian, not the Ombudsman.
Janet Thompson writes an update on AGmates
Matt and I feel like we need to keep everyone updated on what is going on. You have all been so generous and caring…we can never thank you enough. But sharing information with you is the least we can do. I apologise that I’ve not done that well.
I decided that this was the best place to post our updates, but if you have another suggestion, please just let me know.
We are still onsite, still living behind locked gates, “playing” the legal game. We’re living minute by minute, with no certainty of our future. I’m working part-time to keep the lights on and food on the table while Matt keeps the place up and deals with creditors and legal issues. We share house/kid/food duties.
Having said that, we need to give the appearance of normalcy for the kids’ sake, and we put up our Christmas tree on Sunday. The kids were so excited! It was uplifting for me to just swim in their enthusiasm.
Here is a timeline to bring everyone fully up-to-date.
- Friday, 17 September 2010: National Australia Bank (NAB) served papers demanding full payment within 4 days
- Tuesday, 21 September: NAB appointed Ferrier Hodgson (FH) as receivers and managers (R&M) of Narrogin Beef Producers
- Monday, 27 September: A public holiday in WA, R&M came onsite to inform Matt that they would come the next morning to take equipment.
- Tuesday, 28 September: Upon last-minute advice, Matt locked the gates and had a stand-off with the R&M
- Tuesday, 5 October: Matt and I gave notice to NAB and R&M that we were going to file in the Federal Court of Australia (FCA) a case against DEC, and that we were also asking for the appointment of FH to be declared invalid based on conflict of interest.
- Wednesday, 20 October: With the pro-bono help of Peter Spencer, Peter King and James Bell (many thanks, gentlemen), we filed the FCA application in Sydney.
- On the same day, we were served notice that Lavan Legal, acting for FH, had taken pre-emptive action in the WA Supreme Court (WASC) on 14 October, asking for their appointment to be declared valid. This was under section 418A of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cwth), and so it’s referred to as the 418A matter.
- Tuesday, October 26: First hearing of 418A matter. We represented ourselves, asking for the matter to be deferred, as we intended to file a cross-vesting application to transfer the WASC matter into Federal Court, where we had already filed on the same issue. Master Sanderson agreed to adjourn for one week.
- Friday, October 29: Cross-Vesting application filed in WASC.
- Tuesday, November 2: Master Sanderson adjourned the 418A application due to the fact that the cross-vesting application had been filed.
- Tuesday, 9 November: Peter King flew in to argue the Cross-Vesting application in front of Judge Le Miere J. The following day, the judge ruled against us. He agreed to hear the 418A matter on 25 November.
- Tuesday, 23 November: Joshua Forrester of RangerLegal, came to our home and got up to speed on our case, agreeing to defend us at Thursday’s 418A hearing.
- Thursday, 25 November: Hearing went from 10:30 to 5:00. Judge LeMiere has, as of today, 1 December, still not handed down a verdict.
Mr. Paul Byrnes, the DEC employee who had a significant role in our dealings with DEC, attended every one of the 4 hearings, even though all 4 of those hearings were about the appointment of R&M, and had nothing to do with DEC. We have named Paul Byrnes in our Federal Court application.
We are very concerned about shenanigans between the parties on the other side of the table from us. It has become quite clear that FH are not working to maximise value for Narrogin Beef Producers. This means that our unsecured creditors…the many good people who trusted us enough to do business with us….will be left completely out in the cold.
Matt and I feel morally obligated to fight as long as possible to try to get these people paid back, and we are proud of our actions. We have copped some criticism for choosing this course. Of course, life would be easier if we just walked away from the whole mess, got jobs and a nice little rental house somewhere, and just concentrated on ourselves and our four kids. But that would only be a short-term solution. What happens when our kids want to produce? Will they be allowed to?
It matters what we choose today. We know our path will not be perfect, but we will continue to make the best decisions today with the information available to us today. And so long as we are able to look ourselves in the mirror and continue to be open and honest in all of our dealings, we will be okay.
The many people — local, state, national and international — who continue to support and encourage us, are our sustenance. How can we ever thank you enough? I suppose not giving up is the closest we can get.
But thank you, nonetheless.
The central point for information on The Thompsons.